Most of the state’s students aren’t reading at an adequate level, but Gov. Gavin Newsom has one silver lining: At least California isn’t doing as badly as other states.
Last week, both national and statewide test results revealed California’s poor grades in math and reading. While it’s true that students across the country are struggling as a result of the COVID shutdowns, this has been the case in California for some time.
“While California students experienced less learning loss during the pandemic than students in most other states, these results are not a celebration, but a call to action,” Newsom said in a statement.
This no doubt provides little comfort to parents who hoped their children would learn to read in school. To his credit, Newsom said the poor national results were no cause for celebration, but only after celebrating that California wasn’t last.
It’s not that California is doing better than other states per se. The thing is, the state’s decline wasn’t as steep as other states’ national NAEP test. Still, the state saw overall declines in math and reading scores, sometimes by large margins, and was still below the national average, except for 8th grade reading, which was average.
But results from the state’s Smarter Balanced test showed 53 percent of the state’s students are proficient in reading and a whopping 67 percent are not meeting standards in math.
Smarter Balanced, which is given to all California students in grades 3 through 8 and 11, is a more accurate indicator than the NAEP test, which is only a small sample of a few thousand students, noted Lance Christensen, a candidate for California superintendent. Lessons for the public.
“(T)tests taken by 2.9 million kids offer more detailed and devastating news than NAEP scores taken by 4k CA students,” Christensen tweeted.
Newsom has recently done some things that could help marginally, like providing two meals a day for students. It may not sound like much, but hunger makes everything difficult, especially concentration and learning.
But the problems with education are bigger than hunger. Smarter Balanced revealed a troubling trend that likely prevented the results from getting even worse: The number of enrolled students who failed to complete the test satisfactorily increased by about 70 percent since 2019, with about 120,000 students failing the test and several thousand more submitting incompletes. tests that could not be scored.
“It’s like polling bias — if you’re missing groups of people, the results will give you a skewed picture,” said Frederick Hess, Senior Fellow and Director of Education Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
Chronic absenteeism — missing at least 10 percent of school days per year — was already a problem before COVID, but the rate has risen to 14.3 percent in 2020-21. If students do not attend school regularly, they are likely to not perform well on tests or even not show up for the test at all.
Smarter Balanced scores would normally be released weeks ago, but the state decided to delay releasing the scores until after the election. But under intense public pressure, the state dropped the bad news on the same day NAEP results were released, giving it a chance to blunt the blow with less bad national scores.
The COVID shutdowns that Newsom supported (even though he personally sent his children to private school) had a negative impact on education across the country.
But Californians shouldn’t accept it as a scapegoat. The chance to learn to read at an adequate level has been 50/50 in California schools for years.
Students will suffer until there are drastic changes in the way education is done in the state.
Follow Matt on Twitter @FlemingWords